Sauvignon Blanc clone SB 7A is regarded as having one of the best flavour profiles available but tasting it against seven others while walking through the De Bos vine garden in the Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley yesterday, it appeared somewhat lacklustre, at least to me. The ripening process is apparently two weeks delayed this year so perhaps it wasn’t showing its full potential…
De Bos was established in 2006 by the Bosman family in collaboration with official plant improvement agency Vititec – a total of 47 cultivars and 140 different clones planted across 22ha, the Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley “low risk” on account of its virgin soils.
The Bosman family, who live in Wellington and make wine under the Bosman Family Vineyards label, also happen to own the Lelienfotein Vine Nursery grafting nine million vines a year and supplying a third of the South African wine industry.
De Bos therefore is first and foremost about having access to the highest level of plant material to propagate from but also serves to provide data regarding flavour profiles, yields, millerandage and resistance to rot. What hope for Alicante Bouschet? “Part of the exercise is proving that some varieties will never work. You must have data to draw proper conclusions,” says viticulturist Johan Viljoen.
In addition to the vine garden, the Bosmans have a further 20ha of commercial vineyard in the area, one of the wines being a Pinot Noir under Fairtrade label De Bos. Current release is the 2012, selling for R95 a bottle. One-third matured in new oak for nine months, the rest unoaked, it’s really appealing – light bodied with clean red fruit and a touch of spice.